India's U-16 boys have the right attitude: Rustam Akramov
Interview with Former India Coach Rustam Akramov after India’s Qualification to the Final Phase of the AFC Qualifiers.
Rustam Akramov’s heart still beats for India. A regular to India’s matches in the AFC U-16 Qualifiers in Tashkent, Akramov, feels Indian football has ‘taken off.’ Akramov elaborates as to how the attitude in Indian football has changed. Excerpts:
What is Rustam Akramov doing these days?
I am working for the betterment of the Game as an AFC Technical Committee Member besides being a FIFA-AFC Instructor and FIFA Adviser. I have some responsibility, to give back something to the sport. I am also working as the Director for the Uzbekistan Football Federation.
What has been your impression of the India U-16 squad in the AFC Qualifiers?
The boys have impressed me. They are a talented bunch and are a fit unit. Some of the boys are good enough to go the distance. But they need to move outside their country and play abroad.
What difference did you find between the bunch you coached and the present bunch of the U-16 boys who made it to the AFC Final Phase?
I feel Indian football has taken off. Despite all the talent I had at my disposal during my stint in India, the fighting spirit wasn’t always there. To win a football match, you need to be aggressive and have the right attitude. That’s why I had started boxing sessions for the Indian Team during my tenure.
I reiterate, this present bunch of U-16 boys have the right attitude to go forward. To win on the field, you need to be aggressive — and they are.
Where do you see Indian football in the next five years?
India is a Great Country which believes in the Philosophy of ‘Peace’ But on the football field, can you ever make peace. You just can’t. That’s what was halting Indian Football. The U-16 boys need to improve on some tactical aspects. But if they carry on with this fighting spirit and other batches follow them, I tell you in the next five years, the scenario of Asian Football can change. But I reiterate you need to be tough on the field.
How much do you carry the memories of your stint with the Indian National Team?
Those were the best days of my Coaching period. I still remember the names – Mandela (Basudeb Mondal) was a special talent as was Joe Paul (Ancheri). Aqueel’s (Ansari) lungs had the power to run all over the field while Bhutia (Bhaichung) and IM (Vijayan) and Pasha (Shabbir) were always special. But if you asked me to pick-up one single individual, I’d always go for Ajay Singh. He had the spirit and the fighting power. I’d love to be in India again but my age doesn’t permit me to stay outside my country.
By Nilanjan Datta, AIFF Media Team